The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

An approximate transcript of the show broadcast on November 18, 2012

Segment 1:

BRIAN GONGOL: I feel like I just pulled off a coup d'etat and it's kind of upsetting.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, well.

BRIAN GONGOL: You know, it's in a sad moment for America, but it's a good moment for us here at WHO Radio, or at least for us.

BRIAN DEAN: Right here, right now.

BRIAN GONGOL: Brian Dean and I, who are celebrating that fact that I have just rescued the last package of Zingers from the vending machine here at WHO.

BRIAN DEAN: Which might be the last package of Zingers in the world.

BRIAN GONGOL: It's possible.

BRIAN DEAN: Because we were talking here about whether or not Dolly Madison brand was part of Hostess.

BRIAN GONGOL: Yep. It turns out they are.

BRIAN DEAN: We think if HoHos and Cupcakes and DingDongs -- and well, sometimes they might think of us when I think of DingDongs -- like some do.

BRIAN GONGOL: I hope they're not women thinking of HoHos. But anyway.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, anyway, but apparently the Dolly Madison bakery is part of the Hostess.

BRIAN GONGOL: Along with the Hostess and Wonder and Nature's Pride and several other names that I'm not aware of. But yes, the Dolly Madison Bakery is a portion of Hostess, which if you've been following the news this week is now bankrupt and thus they will be selling off their assets. This will be a good question as to whether Zingers will survive. I mean, somebody is buying Twinkies.

BRIAN DEAN: Which, I think so. I think somebody's buying this and it's going to continue.

BRIAN GONGOL: Right. I mean, somebody's buying this out.

BRIAN DEAN: So we don't need some sort of bailout out here, do we?

BRIAN GONGOL: No, no, no. Definitely not. I mean, the whole story with Zingers and Twinkies and HoHos and all of these Hostess products is basically, that untenable union pay and bad decision making by the management and pension demands that they simply couldn't afford have all kind of conspired to kill the maker of Twinkies. Again, Hostess Brands the parent company there. The thing is, somebody's going to buy the Twinkies brand name and recipe. Somebody will buy the brand names and recipes for most, if not all, of those remaining products because they do have value. I mean, you and I talk about Zingers more often than is allowed by law here.

BRIAN DEAN: And I have all of the cash that was on my person is now at a local grocery store.

BRIAN GONGOL: It all went out the window.

BRIAN DEAN: Because I have an additional person home this week, my oldest daughter's back on Thanksgiving break from the University of Iowa.

BRIAN GONGOL: So, there's a larger need for household items.

BRIAN DEAN: Apparently, yeah. So not only is more food being consumed, that's obvious but I mean we seem to be going through toilet paper like I've never seen.

BRIAN GONGOL: It might be a function of the food being consumed.

BRIAN DEAN: I guess that's true.

BRIAN GONGOL: I mean, just as a matter of record.

BRIAN DEAN: So, we were out, or were down to only the rolls that are on ... this is a lot of information for people.

BRIAN GONGOL: It really is.


BRIAN GONGOL: Especially as I'm looking at my chocolate Zingers.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, so anyway, I had to go to the store and all the cash I had on me, it was gone.

BRIAN GONGOL: Right, so I conducted a bailout of the vending machine downstairs.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah. I mentioned something to the effect that I think there are two left.

BRIAN GONGOL: You did. And I thought, well, no I can't let this opportunity go by. I mean, I have always been more of a fan of the pink and coconut ones.

BRIAN DEAN: You like the pink ones, the coconut ones.

BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah. This is mine. This is...

BRIAN DEAN: My absolute favorite is the chocolate.

BRIAN GONGOL: Plain chocolate.

BRIAN DEAN: Chocolate ones, yeah.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, regardless, we've rescued the last set of them here from Vendo-Land.

BRIAN DEAN: So the question here is, do we consume these or do we save these because they are sealed?

BRIAN GONGOL: Right. But they're not gonna survive a nuclear attack.

BRIAN DEAN: They're not going to survive but people would say that these products last a long time. But that's not necessarily a true statement. Maybe it's more true for a Twinkie than a Zinger, I don't know, or maybe it's not true at all.

BRIAN GONGOL: It's not really true for any of them.

BRIAN DEAN: Remember? You don't really remember, but I remember when Coke changed. That was a big deal. It wasn't like a bankruptcy or anything that we have going on here. But the old Coke went away for a while, so people were hoarding their last bits of bottles, the old glass bottles of Coca-Cola. When the new Coke came out, it tasted like Pepsi.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, and then the public revolted so much that they went back.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, I still think the Coca-Cola Company was just using it all as a marketing ploy.

BRIAN GONGOL: Do you really think it was a conspiracy?

BRIAN DEAN: No, but that's for the show in 45 minutes.

BRIAN GONGOL: It's a tin foil hat kind of conspiracy, Brian Dean.

BRIAN DEAN: So anyway, I wonder about folks who rushed out to the stores to buy HoHos and things like that.

BRIAN GONGOL: Oh, yeah. And I know people who did.

BRIAN DEAN: There are none, as far as I know. My wife went to a number of stores today, which is another thing. Why she didn't get the toilet paper is a great question.

BRIAN GONGOL: But she wanted to get the last remaining Twinkies.

BRIAN DEAN: But she was sending me text messages about the empty shelves where HoHos, Cupcakes, and things like that apparently used to be.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, and my brother actually took a picture of the totally empty shelf full of what used to be Twinkies, totally gone. They're just, they're gone. There's been a run and they've been disposed of.

BRIAN DEAN: I can't imagine there isn't some kind of a little bit of it held back. There has to be some somewhere.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, the company just shut down. I going to keep, I think, 2,200 people on to do the winding down operations because I'm sure they still have raw materials sitting there and they need to make use of it somehow to get some kind of cash flow through the door. But the whole idea is they're shutting down, but somebody will buy these assets. Somebody will buy the Twinkies brand name. And maybe not all of them, I mean, who knows, Zingers could be on the chopping block. Maybe somebody, nobody else sees the value in them that we do and if that's the case, maybe we should buy them out. But then again, I don't know how to run a massive bakery so I might be stuck there. But the thing is these things still have some kind of value. They'll get sold off. There will be Twinkies in the future. It just means there's a disruption in the supply chain right now for Twinkies. So, Americans are being brought up close and personal with industrial engineering now. There is a, it's like we have a "just in time" distribution system and now everything has run out. And so, "just in time" isn't going to do us any better because there's no stockpile anywhere. But there will be Twinkies. There will be HoHos. There may or may not be Zingers. There may or may not be Wonder Bread. I don't know who buys a whole ton of Wonder Bread. I don't know. Maybe a lot of people do, maybe they don't.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, Wonder Bread was maybe the most famous bread name at one time.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, there's the sign over there by Mercy Hospital.


BRIAN GONGOL: So I mean, there's definitely value to it, it's just a question of who will buy it and how quickly they will and quickly they will resume production in many of these cases. Because that's how a bankruptcy is supposed to go. I mean, ideally, of course, companies wouldn't get to the point in the first place where they would be going bankrupt. I mean, ideally we wouldn't see that happening at all. And whether that's a combination of labor being maybe more accommodating to the needs of the company. And maybe it's the company having a better long-term view of how things should be run so they stay afloat. This isn't the first time that Hostess has gone bankrupt anyway. And the companies that have been involved in it. I saw somebody post the other day, 'Well, maybe this is the kind of thing that Bain Capital should be buying out and shipping all the jobs to China and dah, dah dah,' They were mocking the private equity universe. Don't get me wrong, as we've talked about before here on WHO, there are a lot of odd things that happen in finance and in private equity. And there are some things that probably should be a little more, I don't know, above board and done in the public eye ... a little more transparency. But on the other hand, there's nothing wrong per se with people having private equity firms or anything like that. In fact, private equity companies were the ones who owned Hostess. And they dumped half a billion dollars into trying to keep the company afloat and that really didn't really work. So, don't make fun of the people who are running them. I simultaneously wouldn't make fun of the people who work there, many of whom are now going to be jobless. It's quite unfortunate. There are lots of losses in any kind of bankruptcy. It's not just the people who owned the company who have lost tons of money now. It's not just the people who work for the company, many of whom are going to be unemployed. It's also the creditors, the people who lent them money. It's also the suppliers. Suppliers are the ones who really get hosed in these kinds of situations. If you delivered lots of equipment or raw materials, flour, the makings of the frosting for the Zingers.


BRIAN GONGOL: You're out for quite a bit of time here. I mean, you might be able to go get some of them back or something, but that's not likely. In most cases, you're stuck. And you're in one of the worst positions if you're a supplier. I've been on that end of things when companies have gone bankrupt. It's very unpleasant because you end up getting back pennies on the dollar. It's just terrible. And of course, consumers lose out. We all want to get these things. This is why I have repeatedly said, I think every company should have a 100-year business plan. I mean, I think you should know that you're not really going to know what you're going to be in 100 years. Frankly, it's difficult to know what you're going to be in 15 or 20 years. But you should at least try to write out a plan, map something out so you have an idea of where you're heading. Because if you don't, then you end up in these situations where you simply cannot sustain what you've been doing and you just have to give up. And in this case, it's a bankruptcy that's going to hurt lots and lots of people. It's quite unfortunate. Now again, the consumers are gonna end up getting their Twinkies somewhere. We're going to see those things supplied because somebody will buy them out later on down the road. But in the meantime, yeah, there are going to be supply chain disruptions. There will be empty shelves where the Twinkies used to be. And there will be people who will be upset because they're not getting their fix. I mean, we like Zingers but there are people who are probably totally addicted to getting a couple of HoHos every morning or those Donettes, they're lots of these things to which people, you know, they have a close affiliation.

BRIAN DEAN: My wife's a big fan of the Donette.


BRIAN DEAN: The Donette bag.

BRIAN GONGOL: The powdered sugar Donette?

BRIAN DEAN: Oh, yeah.

BRIAN GONGOL: I've never really been a big fan of those either. I thought they were too cakey.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, it's limited health, but...

BRIAN GONGOL: It is odd given that she is in the health care sector that she would be a fan of the Donette?

BRIAN DEAN: Loves 'em.

BRIAN GONGOL: That's fine. That's the thing, everybody loses when a bankruptcy occurs. I mean, it's never pleasant. We should never be happy about those things taking place. We should also realize that there is a rational process for them. There is a way that they get resolved. And there is a way to try to make the most of whatever is left over and whatever is left behind in those brands that still have value, recipes that still have value, all the equipment and the trucks and the buildings that all still have value. Somebody has an incentive to go out and buy them up. There really still is a remaining value there and this is why, when we had the big Detroit bailouts, there were a lot people got hurt in that process but there was a rational process that maybe was more rational than the one the government followed that would have still meant that you could have still bought a Buick. You would have still been able to buy a Suburban or a Dodge Ram. I mean, there was still value to those things. But when the government stepped in and interfered in the way that it did, obviously, it certainly has paid off in votes, but it may not have necessarily been the right thing for the economy. It might not have been the right thing for the bondholders and the people who owned the shares in the company for the government to have stepped in in the way that it did. There's a rational process for companies to go through bankruptcy. It exists for a reason so that you can maybe get back to production at some point. You can get back to the point where workers have jobs and suppliers have somebody to sell their goods to. And consumers can still buy their things. The people who are supposed to lose out most there are the ones who actually owned the company, the shareholders. And the people who lent the company money in the form of the bondholders, they end up losing most when you go through one of these. And that's unfortunate too. Nobody should be excited or happy about it. But we should realize that there is a rational process here. Somebody's buying out the brands that are there. Somebody will do that. We don't know who exactly. But we know it's going to happen. And we know that will happen relatively soon. You'll probably still have some of these snack foods available within the next two or three months. I'd be shocked if you didn't. That's just how the process works. So, it's maybe a.

BRIAN DEAN: We can talk about the marketing that will come after that when HoHos come back.

BRIAN GONGOL: Bring 'em back. Sure.

BRIAN GONGOL: They have been revived from the dead. Again, I'm hopeful that somebody will see the same value in Zingers. But if they don't, somebody wants to offer it to me on the cheap, I mean, I'm in business here, kids.

BRIAN DEAN: So, we eating these Zingers or not eating these Zingers?

BRIAN GONGOL: I'm not gonna try to leave them around until I see the company, until I see the liquidation process go through. I think I'm just gonna eat 'em tonight. I did photograph them though, and I will tweet a picture of these so everybody can see that I got the last package of Zingers.

BRIAN DEAN: The very last package, at least here.

BRIAN GONGOL: From Vendo-Land downstairs here at WHO. It's just interesting. It's too bad to see labor not getting along with ownership. And everybody seeing that really all of us are in the same boat here. We all need to be rowing in the same direction. We need to make this work together. I mean, I'm certainly not one who thinks the government has a role to step in and be telling people to get along. I think people are acting in their own best interests, being rational about it, should be able to see that you can't keep up unsustainable benefit plans or pension plans or pay programs and try to keep those up when the company is still losing money. I mean, you can't do that. And so, you can't play a game of brinksmanship and shut down the company and come out ahead. So hopefully, maybe this will be a case study for others that it's maybe a good idea not to just have this adversarial relationship between labor and ownership all the time, and labor and management that sometimes is there. And maybe sometimes it's for the better of the company in the long run, if management doesn't always agree to every demand that's run up the flagpole. I mean, it's worth considering. We have to take a break. When we come back, though, in a moment or two, there is a place where government is very likely to step in very soon in a way that might actually affect your life.


BRIAN GONGOL: Because Google might very soon find themselves regulated.

BRIAN DEAN: Wait a minute. Google, they're even making some expansion right here in Iowa.

BRIAN GONGOL: They are, in fact. But they also may very well find themselves the subject of government regulation.

BRIAN DEAN: That might affect, well, all of us.

BRIAN GONGOL: On a big scale, exactly. We'll talk about that in just a moment. Stick around, it is 9:22 with the Brian Gongol Show on Newsradio 1040 WHO.

Segment 2:

BRIAN GONGOL: Now in case anybody wants to get jealous I've tweeted over at my handle @BrianGongol a picture of those Zingers that I've stolen away from anybody else who thought they might be able to clear out Vendo-Land here at WHO. Brian Dean is still smacking his lips over there.

BRIAN DEAN: I am because I have eaten two.

BRIAN GONGOL: You have eaten two already?


BRIAN GONGOL: That was a very short commercial break and you've already had two of the three?


BRIAN GONGOL: Good heavens, man.


BRIAN GONGOL: You do like your Zingers, though.


BRIAN GONGOL: I just thought maybe you'd savor the experience over a longer stretch of the show.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, it's 9:20. My goodness.

BRIAN GONGOL: Clock's ticking. What should I be expecting? Well, I'm glad you're enjoying them there. I mean, the last of them around here. Hostess going bankrupt. We'll see if Zingers survive. But Google is going to survive over the long haul. I mean, that's a company that's, they've got quite a bit of gas left in the tank. In fact, they've got tons and tons of cash just sitting around, so they're really in no trouble at all.

BRIAN DEAN: Now this is the company that's investing millions in western Iowa, the Council Bluffs area.

BRIAN GONGOL: Exactly. They, in fact, they've just announced that they were going to build phase three of a, well, so far, three-phase data center. They were thinking this was going to happen but not this soon. It was widely expected that they would build a third phase, but it was thought that maybe that was a couple of years down the road, two to four years. I mean, and I've followed this information because it shows up in the construction journals and things that I read for work. And so, we were pretty closely watching this story. So, it was a surprise, I think, to a lot of folks that, nope, they decided they're going to accelerate it and build it right now. Bringing their total investment in these data centers in Council Bluffs to about 1.1 billion dollars.


BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah, tons of money going into this. tons of money. And congratulations to them. I mean, this is a big investment. They've simultaneously announced that they're going to invest in a big way in some wind farms here in Iowa for electricity because that's certainly an area that's going to influence their universe in the years to come. So, they've made a big investment here. I mean, this is a pretty substantial amount of money they're putting in. It's interesting to me. I noted back in 2007 on this show that we were talking about the fact that they had a reason to invest in renewable energy that made sense for the in the long run because data centers use tons and tons of electricity. So, when they announced it back in '07, they were talking about it like it was going to be their philanthropic arm doing all these investments. I tried to kind of call them on it and say, 'Now, let's be realistic about this here.' They might be. Because they've got, they actually have a charity and then they have what they call their philanthropic arm but it's still run as a for-profit organization. And then, of course, there's just plain vanilla Google, which is out to make a dollar. And they're pretty good at doing it, by the way. And my thought was, when they said they were doing it really out of just goodwill and charity, I said, 'Nah, they're doing this because they see the electricity prices could vary in the future.' And, of course, they probably couldn't have forecasted exactly where things would be today. That Iowa's getting 20% of their electricity from wind power. Or that natural gas prices would go so low that a lot of power plants that historically had relied more on coal would start to be shifting more toward natural gas. Which, historically, was used more for just peak production because it's a really easy way to quickly produce a lot of additional electricity. That's why peak production would come along in the summertime when everybody's air conditioning was on. They'd kick on natural gas generators and produce a lot more electricity very quickly in a way that you couldn't do with nuclear plants or with coal powered plants. Natural gas suited that well. But natural gas right now is so cheap that a lot of them are starting to use it for an increasing amount of just the total production. So, five years ago, Google couldn't necessarily have seen any of this coming. But they certainly could see that it would be worth their while, perhaps, to get behind sources of electricity that wouldn't be subject to, say, import and export of natural gas and petroleum and where you're able to get your coal from. Because, depending on the outcome of the election just the other day, we couldn't have gone one very different direction from the one we're headed in now with the use of with the use of coal for electrical power production. So, politics plays into this very heavily. So, getting into renewable investments and having a big presence there makes a lot of sense for Google just from handling the cost of their major expenses. They mainly pay for computers, broadband fiber, broadband connectivity, a few network engineers, a few smart people. And everybody has seen the benefits that are paid to Google employees and the things they get to enjoy. It seems like it's a pretty nice place to work for a lot of folks but, in reality, that's probably not the biggest component. I mean, you only have a few dozen people working at this 1.1 billion dollar data center out in Council Bluffs. But the computers and the electricity to run the computers, now there's where their expenses get real. So it made sense to Google to get into energy production from that reason and that perspective anyway. But I'm also going to point this out. Now again, I don't think that companies have any obligation to be charitable at all, anyway. They have an obligation to make a return for the people who own the companies. I mean, that's what their job really is to do. But Google is, I think, whether they admit it out loud or not, trying to diversify. And maybe diversify in a way from just relying so heavily on money made from search results and the ads that are shown next to those search results. And I think they did see this coming. They could see this coming back in '07 and 2008 when they started to invest in things like natural gas, or not natural gas, but renewable energy and those sorts of things. Because already they are starting to get some pressure from regulatory authorities here in the United States and over in Europe from people who want to look at them, basically, like a regulated monopoly. Ironically, the same kind of position that the phone companies and the power companies have been in for quite some time. The phone company fell away from that when there was a lot of deregulation back in the day. But phone companies traditionally have been regulated monopolies. Power companies have been very much the same. And now, the European Commission is, and I quote here from a report, European Commission is 'considering whether Google's android mobile operating system needs to be regulated.' Yeah. And the FTC here in the United States is pretty much doing the same thing.

BRIAN DEAN: OK. So that would mean one would need to regulate Apple as well, they're kind of right there together. And the other thing, Brian, why regulate them? It seems to me the need to regulate would mean that it would be protecting the rest of us. Would that protect us?

BRIAN GONGOL: Or it would just make things worse.

BRIAN DEAN: Do we need to be protected?

BRIAN GONGOL: Expensive, exactly.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah. And the costs that would be involved with that particular protection and maybe the innovation that we could potentially, what, miss out on?

BRIAN GONGOL: That's the thing. When you have an overly regulated sector, when the government essentially, when the government decides to regulate something it's generally an acknowledgement that, OK, we, hopefully it's only done here in these cases when they think that really only one provider can fit. And historically it's worked because when it came to, say, the power company, it didn't make sense for there to be 15 different power companies each putting up a power plant and their own competing sets of power lines everywhere and transmission lines and that sort of thing, that didn't make a ton of sense. It made more sense for there to be one plant that officially produced as much electricity as was needed in a given area and then they would regulate the profits that came out of that company. That's historically what the thought behind monopoly regulation has always been. Now, if the federal government here in the form of the FTC and over in Europe in the form of the European Commission, get along in this idea that, well, you know, in the future there will just be one search engine of great power and it will be Google. I don't know that that's really a good thing for any of us. I mean, I really don't know that it makes a ton of sense in a universe in which AOL used to be dominant. It is not anymore. Where MySpace used to be dominant, and it is not anymore. Where lots of things used to be dominant and they are not anymore. Remember

BRIAN DEAN: Oh, my gosh.

BRIAN GONGOL: All of these things can come and go and they're subject to very powerful forces and they could be overturned very, very rapidly. They could be replaced very, very quickly by something that is new and better. And we've seen that just in terms of the phones that are out there. The reason the Europeans are looking at some of this regulation is because they figure that so many people are getting android-based phones that Google will have far too much power. Yet at the same time, right now, we have the rollout of the new Windows 8 phones, which, frankly to my eye, look pretty good, and they're in competition with these things. The iPhone obviously had an early start being a very powerful player in this market. And by the way, Blackberry was there before any of them and now Blackberry is having a great deal of trouble. I think, personally, the Smartphone market and, in general, the things that are on the internet are simply too variable, too tumultuous, too subject to new players coming in and doing better to think that any monopoly or anything close to a monopoly will stay in power for a very long time. I mean, there's already speculation out there. And you can see it in the results from the stock prices lately that Apple, which had been so powerful under Steve Jobs, may now be stumbling badly under the management that succeeded Steve Jobs and may not have the same future ahead of it that it used to when Jobs was in power. I mean, you only have to look at a stock chart over the last three months to see that it was at $700 a share back in September and it is, today, at $527 a share. That's a pretty dramatic decline. I mean, the company's stock value has fallen by about a quarter in the course of just a couple of well, it's a couple of months but, in reality, this is a time period you can measure in weeks. I mean, this is only a matter of about two months that it's fallen by one-quarter of its original price, the market price that was out there. That, to me, suggests that there is just too much variability out there and too much possibility for new companies to come in and do things better for it to make a ton of sense for governments to regulate a lot of this. And frankly, it's kind of funny to me and it's maybe a little ironic here that Google which has been in the wild west area of the internet for so long and making all its money there, seeing that they may face a regulated future as the government here and governments elsewhere say, 'Well, you're just a little too powerful. People rely on you a little too much,' that they would actually turn to sectors that historically, have been regulated, like energy production, to make more money there because they've realized, 'Hey, our regulated future may not be all that pretty.' It's kind of funny that things can turn around like that. And it may be possible for them to have a future. And I think they should look at having a future, much broader than just search results and Gmail and YouTube. I think they should be looking well beyond just those traditional borders of the internet and into far greater horizons. We can chat about those for just a couple minutes more here if you stick around. It's 9:47. I'm Brian Gongol here along with Brian Dean on Newsradio 1040 WHO.

Segment 3:

BRIAN GONGOL: And here's your Newsradio 1040 WHO three-day weather forecast from TV 13. For tonight partly cloudy skies, an overnight low of 43 degrees. Tomorrow, day two, mostly sunny. Looking for a high of 60 degrees, really not bad at all for mid to later-November, now. That's fine with me. Tuesday, day three, mostly sunny skies, the high, 63 degrees. But again, for tonight, partly cloudy with an overnight low of 43. Certainly better than frozen Tundra, which is sometimes the occasion around this time, in November, here in Iowa.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah. A number of my neighbors put up Christmas lights.

BRIAN GONGOL: Fine, but they didn't light them, did they?

BRIAN DEAN: Well, I think there was some test lighting that was done. And as I was driving in tonight, before I stopped off at the store to get that stuff I had to get, I saw some on. I have not yet put mine up.


BRIAN DEAN: I chose to go to the park and just play with my youngest son on the park equipment and so on.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, that's pretty reasonable.

BRIAN DEAN: That way seemed like an appropriate use of time.

BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah. Certainly, when the weather's nice. I mean, you can put up the lights anytime you want really. I don't know, I understand getting them up early. But lighting them early, I have a problem with that.

BRIAN DEAN: See, I'm going to go with limited lighting this year.

BRIAN GONGOL: Oh, really?

BRIAN DEAN: I'm gonna light the tree which continues to grow, so I need to get two more light strands, I think, in order to do this.

BRIAN GONGOL: You need one of those long stretchy things to hang 'em up, right?

BRIAN DEAN: Well, and eventually I'm just gonna think, I don't know, when it's dark they don't need to know how tall tree is anyway so I'll light what I can, because it's goofy. It's getting to the point where I'm not climbing to the top of the tree to light it.

BRIAN GONGOL: There's just gonna be a point at which the lights are gonna stop on Brian Dean's tree. About 20 feet up, probably?

BRIAN DEAN: Yep, 20 feet up. Probably, that'll be it.

BRIAN GONGOL: They're just gonna stop.

BRIAN DEAN: Yep, they're gonna stop and that'll be fine. It'll look odd, maybe. But it'll dark so no one will know. And I think we're going to go with the yard, what are those things that light up? Like, the deer and maybe a Santa or snowman. See, the snowmen that I had before were destroyed in a windstorm.

BRIAN GONGOL: That's right, they blew half way across the neighborhood.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, they just kinda blew away. At least the snowman hat did and it kind of fell apart. So, I'm gonna have to redo all that.


BRIAN DEAN: So I think we're going to have, it's gonna be lower, we're gonna have a tree. It'll be lit. We'll have the yard lit with various ornamental things. And I think I'll change out maybe the porch lighting to red and green.

BRIAN GONGOL: I have one string of lights that goes across the front of the garage and that's it. That's as much effort as I'm willing to put in here. I'm not a scrooge. I just, I don't want to climb ladders.


BRIAN GONGOL: I am very anti-ladder.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, And you know that year ... when was it, was it three or four years ago? Whenever it was that we had all the snow and my three-car driveway thing was a path.

BRIAN GONGOL: Was down to like a, yeah, 10 foot by.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah. It wasn't even wide enough really for the car. And the lights were on the house until, I think it was March, because everything was frozen in. It was terrible that year.

BRIAN GONGOL: That was an awful year. So now, you've got it planned ahead, though.


BRIAN GONGOL: That you'll just stop at 20 feet and that's it.

BRIAN DEAN: I had things that were basically buried. I mean, I had lighting up along the sidewalk and everything else that, for the most part, was buried way before Christmas and I couldn't get 'em out.

BRIAN GONGOL: Maybe what you should have done when the tree was shorter was you could have put one of those webbed nettings of lights at the top of it.


BRIAN GONGOL: So that as the tree grew, it would just drag the lights up with it and never take them down.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, but then they're gonna not work.

BRIAN GONGOL: Oh, well, yeah and someday you'll have to climb that tree.

BRIAN DEAN: And there's nothing worse than having all this strand lighting and then there are spots that are blank.

BRIAN GONGOL: Right. Well, my parents also actually also live here in town. And my dad has taken to finding new devices for taking care of tree maintenance without climbing ladders 'cuz he is, I think I've been trying to rub off on him to becoming more anti-ladder in general. But he's now bought one of these pole saws, which is essentially a chainsaw at the end of a large stick and that terrifies me. Everything else we can work with. Long grabby claws or something like that to move your lights, I'm OK with that. But a chainsaw at the end of a stick does kind of terrify me. Really, it's frightening. I've not seen him use it. I have refused to be in the neighborhood when it's happening because it's just that scary to me. But I understand, gotta get the lights ready. It's about that time of year. It's just, don't light them up yet. It's like an early Thanksgiving, you can wait until after Thursday.

BRIAN DEAN: It is. This is the earliest Thanksgiving can possibly be.

BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah. Exactly. I mean, we just had Halloween a couple of days ago. Now, come on, kids are probably still stuffed with Halloween candy and can't fit the turkey into their stomachs yet, it's so early.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, well, there's Christmas music out there. I think there's some local stations that are playing music.

BRIAN GONGOL: I refuse to acknowledge the existence of such a thing. I just won't do it. That's just wrong.

BRIAN DEAN: See, and I came across that on my trip to Iowa City on Friday.

BRIAN GONGOL: Oh, really?

BRIAN DEAN: I think it was day one of the music playing.

BRIAN GONGOL: Jingle Bells, 24/7.

BRIAN DEAN: [CROSSTALK] said, 'What is this?' But I like that kind of music, so I was drawn in.

BRIAN GONGOL: I find that scary. I try to avoid it at all costs, really. It's just too much. I've never been huge on that stuff. I've gotta draw a line somewhere. And Christmas music, I draw the line there.

BRIAN DEAN: But Brian, people are putting their lights up early. The Christmas music is on, already on some stations and so on. And stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

BRIAN GONGOL: Pretty much, yeah. Not a situation I think was necessary. I understand how there's like a Cold War thing.

BRIAN DEAN: I need to buy some towels that'll be cheaper than usual. That's what I'm gonna do and I can do it on Thanksgiving Day at 8pm.

BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah. Right. You know, because I can't wait another couple of hours, that midnight opening was too crazy.


BRIAN GONGOL: We're going to line up now so that we can get things on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00. I really think that this proves why conspiracies can't be held up. I posted I think on Twitter the other day something to the effect that, times must be tough for conspiracy theorists when even the CIA director can't keep his own affair a secret.

BRIAN DEAN: I saw that one. That was funny.

BRIAN GONGOL: You can't keep these ... if the CIA director can't keep a secret, all right. Who thinks that there are conspiracies out there?

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, but if the CIA director is using one of those free e-mail services.

BRIAN GONGOL: Right, from Google. Then they'll be found out, that's for sure.

BRIAN DEAN: Maybe shouldn't have been CIA director.

BRIAN GONGOL: Well, yeah, there's something else to be learned there as well. It's perhaps that the people in charge of making decisions about policy should be better educated about the technology that they're using than the people who are subject to those policies. That's why I've said we should not elect anybody to Congress if they are technologically or scientifically illiterate. I don't think they belong there.

BRIAN DEAN: We have a lot of those.


BRIAN DEAN: Both parties have that, no lie.

BRIAN GONGOL: We've got a lot of technological and scientific doofuses running around Washington and yet they're the ones who make the laws that affect the rest of us. Like telling the FTC to go after Google for regulation. See, this is the thing. This is why I think they should know something about science and technology. I think they should know stuff about economics as well. But coming back to my original point here, it's if the CIA director can't keep a secret then it's probably tough to be a conspiracy theorist right now and really have any standing. This is why I don't really think that it's a conspiracy among the stores that are opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day. What it is, is it's the effect of basically trying to keep a cartel together. 'Cuz realistically, holding off on opening until Black Friday requires, in essence, not a conspiracy so much as a cartel. In other words, a gentleman's agreement among these retailers not to open early. And so, if they all kind of just agree centrally as a gentleman's agreement not to do it then nobody loses out and everybody kind of gets to get their share of the pie. And they're opening earlier and earlier because there's an incentive there to break the cartel. The incentive being if I can get people to show up at my store at 11:45 on Thanksgiving night rather than at midnight for the grand opening, well then I beat you by 15 minutes but I get an extra couple million dollars in sales so I have a reason to open up earlier. So, you then see it reasonable to open up at 11:30. So somebody else says, 'Well, then we're gonna open up at 11:00 and beat you both.' And that's why we now see some of these stores opening up at, what, 8:00 on Thanksgiving night.

BRIAN DEAN: Sure. Or there's some that don't close at all.


BRIAN GONGOL: And as consumers, we then have the power to determine whether that goes on. I mean, anybody who says those evil corporations are making the decision to open up early. No, you probably should be blaming those evil consumers who are willing to show up and buy the things at that hour. Because if consumers wouldn't show up, they wouldn't open.

BRIAN DEAN: I can get a TV for $78.

BRIAN GONGOL: See, you can't be stopped.

BRIAN DEAN: So, it matters.

BRIAN GONGOL: That's the thing. In reality, this is why it's not a conspiracy. What it comes down to is the supply and demand forces out there.

BRIAN DEAN: You know, frankly, and it's stuff that a person doesn't really need.

BRIAN GONGOL: No. I've never, I try to avoid shopping on Black Friday. Forget that. I don't need it. I'm just, I'm gonna shop when I need it.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, this tells you how maybe foolish or naive I was years ago. Jordan was just little, now she's a college sophomore. I needed to get, again, a string of lights. So I figured, 'OK.' And it was the day after Thanksgiving. I thought, 'Wow, home improvement stores, that won't be busy.'

BRIAN GONGOL: What could go wrong?

BRIAN DEAN: They'll be someplace else. People will be shopping for things at other places. I couldn't believe there were people in a line and all this. This was years and years ago before, I guess, now we know that the home improvement stores are also big Black Friday locations. But I had never in my life would have expected that. And I was just standing in there in line for like a two-dollar thing of lights, a string of lights. I stood in line for two hours.

BRIAN GONGOL: For two dollars.

BRIAN DEAN: Yeah, to pay for that.

BRIAN GONGOL: That's just cruel.


BRIAN GONGOL: I'm sorry.


BRIAN GONGOL: I feel sorry for you in retrospect.


BRIAN GONGOL: I feel like going back and comforting Brian Dean of years ago and saying, 'Aw, sorry buddy.'


BRIAN GONGOL: That was just a bad decision.

BRIAN DEAN: It made for a good story. It still does. I'm still using it.

BRIAN GONGOL: Obviously. But it still suggests to me that, again, you can't regulate your way into happiness. That's really the bottom line here.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, thus we can't regulate when the stores are open and closed, right?

BRIAN GONGOL: No, you're not gonna do that and we have only ourselves to blame if they open up earlier and earlier. Because if there were no incentive to do so, and the incentive is created by us as consumers, then they wouldn't do it. That's the thing. The companies are responding to the incentives that are there. Again, if I were running one of these stores, I wouldn't want to open up on Thanksgiving evening at like 8:00. I would think that's ridiculous. I would hate to do that for myself and maybe I would say, and I'm not gonna put my employees through it either no matter what it costs.' But the reality of it is, is that if consumers are willing to show up early and we've shown increasing interest in showing up earlier and earlier because we're just so crazy for these deals. Well, then, they're going to respond to that kind of demand. Whether that's good for us or not. I tend to think it's not all that good for us, but it's just what people do. Now, Google could solve some of these problems, of course, they're trying to do it by selling things and managing their own online sales thing. They're finding it very difficult to compete with Amazon which has a massive, massive presence in the online buying and selling universe. I mean, Amazon and Ebay are just tough to knock off.

BRIAN DEAN: You can buy almost anything through Amazon. They're not just a bookseller.

BRIAN GONGOL: Right. They've gone well beyond that and were very smart to do that.

BRIAN DEAN: I think you can get a car battery. I think just almost anything, right?

BRIAN GONGOL: Oh, sure you can.

BRIAN DEAN: I mean, almost anything.

BRIAN GONGOL: I put some things on my wish list on Amazon that are certainly not books. I mean, I've got candy on my wish list. So, I mean.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, and maybe Zingers and Cupcakes and some HoHos.

BRIAN GONGOL: I should put Zingers on that list now. But that's the thing. Now, Google, like we were talking about a little bit ago, now facing pressure from the government and perhaps regulation here in the future. They might wanna look at another area and, of course, I've already submitted that they oughta look at, continue looking at the energy sector as a way to get away from the regulations and the possibility of being regulated in and boxed in by that. They also, though, need to look at other areas where lots of computing power might make a big, big difference. And I've suggested in the past they oughta look at things like medical research, pharmaceutical research, things like that, weather forecasting. Lots of these areas require lots of computing power and lots of smart people and these are areas they could make tons of money. They apparently could also take a look at maybe contributing their computing power and wisdom to the airlines and managing the airlines a little more effectively. United had a huge computer outage the other day and it left thousands of passengers stranded. And so, that was all due to a computer failure. Maybe that's another area that Google should start looking at because maybe they'll be less regulated if they go into those things rather than trying to chase after, I don't know, Amazon's sales of everything and Ebay's sales of everything online. They might find more success by going in different directions. Now, we have a final break here to take. And when we come back some guy theorizes, and maybe not without some evidence, that we've already stumbled into the idiocracy universe. Talk about that in just a moment on WHO.

Segment 4:

BRIAN GONGOL: And by the way, I want to acknowledge the text that came in on the American Top. Let me just read this text line from Greg in Sigourney said, 'Hey, now, find out whether management was willing to take a cut in pay and benefits at Hostess.' And again, this is Greg's text, he says 'Seems to me restructuring always comes at a cost to the little guy and it's inevitable.' You're right Greg, that a lot of little guys here will suffer consequences. I think a lot of executive will also suffering some consequences. Everybody's going to lose. And that's my point here is that everybody is going to lose in this process going through that bankruptcy. Inevitably, though, I think consumers will see a lot of the products still being sold out there. And by the way, I posted the picture of that last set of Zingers over to our Facebook page, WHO Radio's Facebook page.

BRIAN DEAN: Sure. Yeah.

BRIAN GONGOL: And immediately somebody commented and said, 'That's not a Hostess product. That's a knockoff of a Hostess product.' Fortunately, I didn't even have to respond. Somebody else acknowledge, 'Nope, that in fact is. Dolly Madison Bakeries makes Zingers and Dolly Madison is, or at least has been, a part of Hostess.'


BRIAN GONGOL: Yes, I appreciate somebody else doing the fact checking so I didn't have to.

BRIAN DEAN: That's good you can save some time. I have consumed my Zingers.

BRIAN GONGOL: They're all gone?

BRIAN DEAN: They are gone.

BRIAN GONGOL: Boy, I tell ya, I haven't touched mine yet because I still wanted to get through the show.

BRIAN DEAN: Well, you were doing much more talking.

BRIAN GONGOL: That's true. I filibuster sometimes.

BRIAN DEAN: While you were talking about things, I took care of my craving for the chocolate on chocolate.


BRIAN DEAN: With white creamy filling.

BRIAN GONGOL: That's because we do like that food. Now, whether we're addicted to the products that are out there.

BRIAN DEAN: I think it's 450 calories per package.

BRIAN GONGOL: Per package?

BRIAN DEAN: Or is that per, then 900. What is it?


BRIAN DEAN: Oh see, well, that's not even as much as I thought.

BRIAN GONGOL: But 35% of your saturated fat for the day, so don't to have more than one package in a day of it or it might kill ya.

BRIAN DEAN: 'Cuz I might have had bacon.

BRIAN GONGOL: Just have a little bacon, it'll push you over the edge. Now, I mentioned this idiocracy thing. I don't know if you've ever seen this film, Brian Dean. I don't know if a lot of people have ever actually seen it. Mike Judge did this film. I don't know, the film itself is.

BRIAN DEAN: The Simpsons guy?

BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah. Well, The King of the Hill.

BRIAN DEAN: King of the Hill, yeah, right.

BRIAN GONGOL: Yeah. And lots of others, Beavis 'n Butthead. The opening sequence is really the best part of all. The opening five minutes in which they depict a universe in which this intelligent well-educated hard-working couple has difficulty having a child at all. And then there's kind of a moron down the street who seems to do nothing but have children by lots of different mothers. It's essentially posits that you make it easy for idiots to have kids and sooner or later the human species is doomed. Well, a Stanford geneticist has already posited the idea here that civilization here is actually doing such a good job at keeping natural selection at bay that we may actually have been failing to weed out the stupid for at least two or three thousand years now. And so, we actually might be much dumber than the equivalent people who were living a few thousand years ago who maybe had to fend a little more for themselves and so had their parents. It's an interesting hypothesis. I don't wanna test it, though. We'll see you next week here on Newsradio 1040 WHO.